MATTY Smith admits the pain of last season’s Grand Final defeat will be in the back of his mind when he walks out at Old Trafford this evening.
The England half-back is making his fourth appearance at the Theatre of Dreams, having played against Wigan for St Helens in 2010, before going on to reach the last two finals with the Warriors.
You always think: ‘This might be the last time I play here’ so you have to kind of treat it like that and never take it for grantedMatty Smith
And having tasted defeat twice – including against his hometown club 12 months ago – he hopes the experience will lay a solid foundation to glory this year.
“We’ve talked about what losing felt like and we use that, in the best way possible, to turn that around and for it not to happen again,” he said.
“We had all winter and all pre-season to think about that loss. It still sticks in the back of your mind but you have to try and learn from those situations… try and use it positively to build on and make sure it doesn’t happen again.”
And while Smith has made a habit of reaching Super League’s showpiece event, he denies he and his team-mates are numb to the excitement of a Grand Final.
“You can never take it for granted,” he said.
“You always think: ‘This might be the last time I play here’ so you have to kind of treat it like that and never take it for granted. To be here again is just great.
“Losing last year, winning the year before, it’s massive ends of the scale. We are up against a tough Leeds side but if we do everything we can we give ourselves a chance.”
And Smith thinks Wigan’s preparation so far will go a long way to giving them that chance.
Overcoming a poor away record this term – and four losses from seven between May and July – Warriors turned up the heat to win nine of the last 11 games, launching them to joint top of the pile.
“We’re preparing really well,” explained Smith.
“We’ve been inconsistent throughout the year, but so has everyone else and this is all about coming good at the right time. I think we’ve done that and we’ve got one more game to go.”
With two wins each between Wigan and Leeds from four head-to-head meetings so far in 2015, and with both sides finishing the regular season level on points, Smith admits tonight’s clash is a tough one to call.
“We’re one short of making it a fantastic year for us and there’s nothing in it,” he said.
“We finished on the same points and have each won two games.
“The only difference is Leeds have silverware and we haven’t, and we have to make sure we come out with silverware this year.”